Led Zeppelin, Reverse Lyrics and Meaning

Ken Wais

 

12/20/12

 

 

When I first heard the 1970ís rock classic Stairway

to Heaven, I found it one of the few rock songs I liked

I had trouble understanding the lyrics in any

deep philosophic way. Well, I was in my early twenties then, in college, smoking marijuana and often found these musical experiences shall we say

mesmerizing

I remember that some of the

lyrics, I completely misunderstood For

instance take the phrase in the song, I heard as:

 

Itís just a sprinkling for the May Queen.

 

 

Listen to the song and see if you canít mishear it this way

To Spring clean is a rare phrase construct in English, but the phrase

sprinkling is common

Is it any wonder why I heard it as

sprinkling? The word is almost identical

to the phrase Spring

clean.

 

 

I also mistook this phrase:

 

 

Sometimes all of our

thoughts are Misgiven

 

 

Sometimes all of our

thoughts are Misleading

 

 

And it gets worst; I misunderstood several phrasings in this

Song.Here is probably the funniest:

 

 

And itís whispered

that soon, if we all call the tune

 

 

I understood as:

 

And itís whispered

that tune, if we all call the Jew

 

 

Iím not kiddingThis

is how I heard it, on a reefer high and in a normal state of mind

I thought wow,

thatís a pretty anti-Semitic line, how did they get this song made with

comments like that? Again, I ask you to listen to the song and see if you can

hear what I heard. Itís important too,

because it lends relevance to what I will allege about the reverse lyrics.

 

 

There were no liner notes on the album I had at the

Time. So, I supplied my own English

version of what Robert Plant was singing

And this is not uncommon I am

sure any reader of this essay has misunderstood the lyrics to a song they have

heard and supplied their interpretation of its meaning

When I finally got a copy of the album with

lyric transliteration, I was shocked to see, what I thought was being sung was

so far wrong!I exclaimed in surprise:

So, thatís what heís saying!!! Wow, damn,

how could I haveó

 

And yes, how could I have gotten it so wrong?

This misunderstanding is at the heart of what

I want to examine in this essay.We make

meaning or better put, create meaning all the time

We engage in interpretation and meaning

assignment in our every waking minute of life

So, this brings us to Led Zeppelin and a campaign to ban rock music by the

meddling neurotic Christian religious right in the 1980s.

 

In 1982 a television program on the Trinity Christian

Broadcasting network a Christian fanatic alleged that the:

Stairway to Heaven song contained satanic references if played in

reverse. See this Wiki site for details:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stairway_to_Heaven#Allegation_of_backward_masking,//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stairway_to_Heaven#Allegation_of_backward_masking

 

Later, many other jack-asses added their voices to this

claim

 

There was even a campaign to have albums imprinted with

warnings about the satanic content of rock genre music. They wanted to put before

legislative bodies in several states, a bill to have this warning required by law

Such a bill never passed any legislative body

anywhere in the country.All of this is

so distasteful to me I wonít chronicle the story further

I will focus on the specific example from

the:

normal'>Stairway To Heaven song

that is proffered as an example of satanic lyrics in reverse

I do this to show how we as human beings can

be made to see meaning where is there is none

Recall what Iíve said above about how I saw meaningful words in this

song where in fact there were not? Well,

now letís see what some very sick neurotic person managed to do by reversing a

specific section of this song.

 

Please note what Iíve said above

Some person sat down and input to the

reversed lyrics of Stairway

To Heaven an interpretation what he or she thought was

being sung.

 

 

So, with that said here is the verse and next its reverse

interpretation.

 

 

See this site for the audio of these two phrases: <a

href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwBdpESvSKM">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwBdpESvSKM

 

 

The song phrase is:

 

 

If thereís a bustle in

your hedgerow

 

Donít be alarmed now

 

Itís just a spring

clean for the May Queen

 

Yes, there are two

paths you can go by,

 

But in the long run

 

Thereís still time to

change the road youíre on

 

And the reverse yields (if you read it while listening I

stress)

 

 

Oh hereís to my sweet

Satan,

 

The one whose little

path,

 

Would make me sad

 

Whose power is

Satan

 

Heíll give those with

him 666

 

There was a little

tool shed,

 

Where he made us

suffer, sad Satan

 

 

Now, if you visit this site and many others about embedded

messages in reverse lyrics of audio electronic records, you will in fact hear

what the verse above says

But, only if you are primed to hear it by reading the lyrics.

If you listen without any written

interpretation of what the reverse audio is saying you will not hear anything

more than the word Satan enunciated

twice

 

The question to ask is the following:

 

 

Who supplied this interpretation of what the reverse lyrics

meant?And a greater question is the

following:

 

Isnít it possible that certain English (or the words of any

language) words when phonetically reversed will yield other words in English,

as a coincidence?

 

 

If I don't look I don't hear 666. It's hard to see this but

if you reverse the sounds of certain English words they can in a stream of

sounds coincidentally come out as other English words. It's more complex than

I'm indicating. Remember when a sound stream is reversed everything is

reversed. This includes pitch and tone. So, low sounds go to high and pitch

changes from slow to fast and all of this put together can randomly create the

appearance of other English words, ifÖ ifÖif this is a bigif coming here....some jerk sits down and forces you to see his/her

interpretation of it. And that's what somebody did with Led Zeppelinís lyrics.

 

 

I believe this to be true

However, Iíve havenít done the any linguistic research to substantiate

This.Still, I donít think this is

necessary.Remember what I said above

about my misunderstanding the lyrics to Stairway

to Heaven sung in the forward direction?

This shows that I was able to misperceive what I was hearing and apply

my own interpretation to a misperception!

And I am not alone in this.So

many others have confirmed to me in casual conversations about songs they know

from their youth that theyíve misunderstood and misperceived.

With this fact in hand, is there any doubt

that same can happen when the lyrics of a song like

Stairway to Heaven are reversed?

But, more important is the greater fact that we can be deluded into

hearing an audio illusion that there is some meaning in the reversal of sound

that is not there.That is what is

invidious.Somebody with an agenda

cooked up this satanic interpretation!

 

 

So, letís tie this all together from the Existentialist

perspective.

 

 

There is no meaning in the reverse lyrics of

Stairway to Heaven

It is yet another example of how human beings

can find meaning where in fact there is none

We can easily be seduced into seeing that Stairway to Heaven has satanic lyrics because we always seeking

meaning in everything we perceive even; false meaningfulness

Yeah I know that last phrase is kind of oxymoronic.

 

Just think about it, if these guys were trying to embed

satanic messages subliminally, why not put them in the whole recording? Why

just there? Well, because somebody

worked hard to find their lyrics at that one areaÖthat

teeny-weeny one little place, that area was the one place some big horn-rimmed glasses wearing, church-going jerk, found to put in

his/her interpretation. Makes me sick to think of this person. And, and, and Öand this is a big and coming here--even if we accept that the song is saying what is

claimed in reverse, the message is hardly satanic, in fact any super reverent Christian

should love what it's saying. It's lamenting the

influence of Satan!